Women getting help to find legal avenues to deal with gender violence

All Woman

Women getting help to find legal avenues to deal with gender violence

Monday, July 13, 2020

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AS the government reopens the country, so, too are we seeing several communities across Jamaica deciding to reopen and organise in public spaces. Some communities are reopening to parties and dances, but the Lyndhurst/Greenwich, Arnett Gardens and Torrington Park communities have decided to signal their reopening with a series of training sessions on intimate partner violence and child abuse.

Since the stay-at-home measures employed to flatten the COVID-19 curve, there have been reported increases in violence and abuse in several homes, targeted at women and children. Recognising both the historically high incidence as well as the increased potential for intimate partner violence during the COVID-induced stay-at-home orders, the Equal Rights and Justice (ERJ) Project held an intimate partner violence and child abuse training session for women and their children from the Lyndhurst/Greenwich, Arnett Gardens and Torrington Park communities.

The aim, according to Dr Shinique Walters, project lead of the ERJ, is to “enhance the knowledge base of women and children as to the local laws that provide protection for them, such as the Child Care and Protection Act; Education Act; Offences Against the Person Act; Sexual Offences Act; and the Domestic Violence Act.”

Dr Walters added that, “the knowledge gained from these trainings will strengthen women and children in abusive situations to seek protections under law, rather than continuing to suffer, often in silence, or otherwise resorting to violence.”

The women and children trained in the sessions will be used as justice champions in their respective communities, where they will continue to educate people of their rights under law and the necessary State agencies that will see to the protection of their rights, Dr Walters added.

Within the first 10 minutes of the start of the first session, one of the participants asked the presenter, Christopher Harper, the most pertinent question: How do I get the protection from an abusive partner that the system offers? Harper explained that applications may be made via the police or through the Family Court.

He also outlined several types of abuse, listing physical, sexual and even financial, and pointing out that several types may coincide in a single relationship. Financial abuse, for example, may accompany physical abuse as one partner may exert unreasonable control over the finances in the relationship and either use that as a means of coercing the other partner into sex, or may otherwise violently limit the other partner's access to financial resources.

The ERJ — administered by the Department of Government at The University of the West Indies, Mona with primary funding from the European Union— is committed to both raising public awareness of the use of alternative justice services in addressing disputes.

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